Four Ukrainian nationals were returned to their home country last week, after arriving without the valid permits to work short-term in Estonia, according to a piece in daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL).
The Ukrainians, all women, said they had been hired to work for KFC, which recently opened its first franchise in Estonia, and according to the report had got their placements via a consultancy firm, and had not registered with the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) as per the regulations.
There are over 20,000 third-country (i.e. non-EU plus a few other countries such as Japan, the U.S. and Switzerland) nationals working under valid short-term employment contracts at present, with Ukraine making up by far the largest proportion at over 16,000, according to EPL.
PPA spokesperson Kristjan Lukk said that people entering Estonia with purposes other than stated – there is a non-Schengen zone waiting area at Tallinn Airport where individuals will often be interviewed and their prospective employers often contacted, as happened in the case of the four Ukrainians – is an almost daily occurrence, with, for instance, those arriving saying they are tourists whereas their luggage contains construction clothing and they have no bookings lined up at hotels or similar.
For its part, Apollo Fresh Food OÜ, the KFC franchisee in Estonia and part of the Apollo Group, says the women were not being paid, and had been brought over as consultants, a common practice in the hospitality sector, the company says; the Estonia authorities found this unconvincing and the women were returned to Kiev, though they may return once the necessary paperwork – including registration with the PPA and a work contract with a minimum monthly pay at the average Estonian level (currently €1,310 gross) – has been completed.
The original EPL article (in Estonian) is here.
Estonia sets its own third-country migration quota, whereby applicants can take on temporary residence permit, at a little over 1,300 people per year; places generally get filled early on each year. The number of migrants resident in Estonia under the EU's migration relocation plan stands at a little over 60. Some proposals have been put forward in the past to ease restrictions on top-level IT specialists and those in other key jobs.
Large numbers of Ukrainian construction workers are employed in Tallinn; the coalition government decided in September to discontinue the issuance of free long-term visas to citizens of Ukraine and Belarus as of Nov. 1, with Ukraine responding in kind soon after.
Editor: Andrew Whyte